Skip to main content

Lehigh Accepted the Challenges So That They Could Feel Victory

You don't have to be a militaryphile to love football.  But to love football, it helps to have an appreciation for the military.

I remember once, long ago, on this blog I made an incorrect reference and quote in regards to the Vietnam war.  Then-head coach Pete Lembo, a pretty good military historian as well as a pretty good college football head coach, wrote me to clarify almost immediately.  He was right; I was wrong.

One of the most iconic military personalities was General George S. Patton, the controversial yet beloved World War II soldier that was an amazing figure.  He also provided this quote, applicable to both the military and football:

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

I pulled out this quote from General Patton because it seems particularly apropos in regards to this Lehigh football team this week.


It is a dirty little secret that people will constantly put down the newer generations coming up in order to prop up their own generation.  Many included in the group that were coined "The Greatest Generation" certainly thought themselves the greatest generation, but I never felt that way.  The Greatest Generation did some great things, but they also neglected to solve others, even though they could have.

Similarly, the blanket putdown of the newest generation in college right now - I dare not give them a name, for it would be presumptuous of me to try to do so - is that they are the generation where "everyone gets a trophy".

The myth, perpetrated by the old and the jealous, is that the modern generation is "soft' because they've been told over and over that they are Number One - that they get trophies for just showing up.

It's simply not true.

People get into football because they want to challenge themselves, that they are not satisfied with a trophy for showing up.

And I get the impression, of this particular Lehigh team that this is particularly true.

In order to be a success, football requires a team of 90 people doing something important for a team goal, with each of them challenging themselves to do the absolute best in their jobs in order to deliver a win.  If a few guys are not challenging themselves to do their best, the opposition will hunt them out and exploit it and the team will lose.

Football is a very unforgiving sport, and that's OK.  Football is a challenge.  It's supposed to be a challenge to win a league title.  If it were easy, everyone would be winning them.

Football is a challenge because it's a year-round commitment.  Months and months before the first college football game is played, there are hours and hours of lonely time in the weight room to build up the strength required to put up with the beating.  Before the filled stadiums, there's sparse practice fields, and drills, and tackling dummies, and scout players.

When You Have No Teammates, This Happens
Football is not different than other sports in that regard, but it is different in that you cannot ride one single player to glory.  You could have QB Aaron Rodgers as your QB, but if your offensive line can't block for him, your receivers can't catch for him, or your running game won't take pressure off of him, you won't win.

But when it does all come together, when all the pieces start to work together, when the coaches get things together, when the players pull in and make things happen, it's a beautiful thing, because you get this thing called victory.

George S. Patton realized this, but in a military context.  He knew that the military was made up of a whole lot of different people with different roles, and only by doing your roles to the best of your ability can you win a war.  The same principle applies to football.

Some probably didn't like the fact that I challenged the offensive and defensive lines last week to step up their game.  They might have thought that the fragile young minds, too used to adulation and trophies, couldn't handle it.

But thinking that way, I think, sells an entire generations short and isn't right.  Like all the generations before them, many young men (and women) don't shrink away from challenges.  The really good ones do their best to meet them.

In a football context, that's what the offensive and defensive lines did last week versus Bucknell.

Against Yale, I said the offensive line was pushed around.

O Line Celebrating Shaf Touchdown
Against Bucknell, the offensive line consisting of junior C Brandon Short, junior OL Zach Duffy, senior OL Matt Ford, senior OL Steven Camasta, sophomore OL Tim O'Hara and senior OL Matt Cohen did a phenomenal job of carving out 229 net rushing yards and yielding no negative yards rushing from a running back on the afternoon.

"Here my freshman year was my first action and we lost and then last year against Bucknell was probably my worst game," Shaf said afterwards. "So, I hadn't had good experiences against them, but today, coming out on their home turf getting this nitty, gritty win … you have to love it."

Against Yale, the defensive line was dominated by the Bulldog O line, allowing a 200 yard rusher.

But against Bucknell, the defensive line held Bucknell to a 52 rushing yards in 28 attempts, or a paltry 2.0 yards per carry.  When QB R.J. Nitti passed the ball, he found himself more often than not with a defensive lineman or linebacker in his face.

Perhaps it shouldn't have been all that surprising, because football players are football players because they like to challenge themselves, much the same way Lehigh students are Lehigh students because they like to challenge themselves.  If you want to major in Xbox One, there are lots of other schools you can go to.  At Lehigh, you'll be challenged.

But these kids, and this generation, ought to be given some credit when they rise up after being challenged.  We shouldn't shrink from giving them challenges, because it is only through challenge that you can experience victory.

"The message from the coaches all week was to step up play for the guys next to you and we did that with just 10 points allowed," junior DE T.J. Stubbs told Keith Groller of The Morning Call.  "A game like this is what we've been working for all spring, all summer.  I was playing today not only for the guys next to me but also for my big brothers who were on that 2013 team."

An offseason of challenging themselves finally resulted in a satisfying win for this team.  They truly experienced victory this weekend.

And I think they're hungry for a few more victories this season just like this one.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Fifteen Guys Who Might be Lehigh's Next Football Coach (and Five More)

If you've been following my Twitter account, you might have caught some "possibilities" as Lehigh's next head football coach like Lou Holtz, Brett Favre and Bo Pelini.  The chance that any of those three guys actually are offered and accept the Lehigh head coaching position are somewhere between zero and zero.  (The full list of my Twitter "possibilities" are all on this thread on the Lehigh Sports Forum.)

However the actual Lehigh head football coaching search is well underway, with real names and real possibilities.

I've come up with a list of fifteen possible names, some which I've heard whispered as candidates, others which might be good fits at Lehigh for a variety of reasons.

UPDATE: I have found five more names of possible head coaches that I am adding to this list below.

Who are the twenty people?  Here they are, in alphabetical order.

How The Ivy League Is Able To Break the NCAA's Scholarship Limits and Still Consider Themselves FCS

By now you've seen the results.  In 2018, the Ivy League has taken the FCS by storm.

Perhaps it was Penn's 30-10 defeat of Lehigh a couple of weeks ago.  Or maybe it was Princeton's 50-9 drubbing of another team that made the FCS Playoffs last year, Monmouth.  Or maybe it was Yale's shockingly dominant 35-14 win over nationally-ranked Maine last weekend.

The Ivy League has gone an astounding 12-4 so far in out-of-conference play, many of those wins coming against the Patriot League.

But it's not just against the Patriot League where the Ivy League has excelled. 

Every Ivy League school has at least one out-of-conference victory, which is remarkable since it is only three games into their football season. 

The four losses - Rhode Island over Harvard, Holy Cross over Yale, Delaware over Cornell, and Cal Poly over Brown - were either close losses that could have gone either way or expected blowouts of teams picked to be at the bottom of the Ivy League.

Why the Ivy Le…

Remembering Andy Coen's Time As Head Coach As He Steps Down as Lehigh Football Head Coach To Address Health Issue

I read the announcement that head coach Andy Coen was stepping down as head football coach late Friday evening.

It was an announcement that I was expecting, to some degree. 

Those of use who have been following the program closely knew that something was amiss with Andy. 

And yet, the reason for him needing to step down was devastating.

"Life has thrown me a curveball," Coen said in the press release on Friday, December 7th, 2018. "I am in the early stages [of early onset Alzheimer's disease] and it is best for me to eliminate stress and concentrate on my health and well-being.  My wife, Laura, and my children, Molly, Nolan and Finn have supported me throughout my career and are my biggest fans.  This is a very difficult decision for all of us, but it is what is best at this time."

It was the gutting, pit-in-the-stomach diagnosis nobody wanted to be true.  Just like that, a bigger challenge than simply winning football games faces the man who has been heading …